Many injury victims seek to receive financial compensation. Still, others want to pursue justice for different reasons. 

Victims often want to tell their stories in court and be heard. They also want the law to recognize that someone harmed them. 

While personal injury accidents often cause financial losses, other hardships are associated with suffering an injury or property damage because of someone’s negligence. 

Nominal damages provide justice to individuals who cannot obtain compensatory damages, payments that cover the costs associated with an incident. By seeking nominal damages, you can share your story and receive recognition. You could also shed light on the truth of what happened, preserve your reputation, and show that the law is on your side. 

The Law Dictionary defines nominal damages as a trivial sum the plaintiff receives when the following are true. 

  • There is no substantial loss or injury. As a result, there is nothing for which to compensate. Alternatively, the victim lacks evidence to demonstrate a real injury or loss.
  • The law identifies a technical invasion of the victim’s rights or a breach of the wrongdoer’s duty. 

Nominal damages contrast, in a sense, with compensatory damages. Compensatory damages, including economic and non-economic damages, are large. They provide real compensation for the financial toll of an injury. 

Why Are Nominal Damages Awarded?

Nominal damages are awarded when the law protects the victim’s rights yet does not entitle the victim to substantial damages, or the victim does not seek monetary gain from the action. 

In these cases, victims might not have suffered sufficient financial losses from the incident to warrant compensatory damages. In other cases, they do not have enough evidence to demonstrate the harm. 

Some individuals might not want money, only vindication. 

How Much Can You Receive in Nominal Damages?

Nominal damages are small. This type of award contrasts with compensatory damages ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. 

The typical amount of nominal damages is one dollar. But courts may award higher amounts, such as 100 dollars. 

In addition to nominal damages, the victim could receive attorney’s fees. This would require the party at fault to pay the victim’s legal costs so that the victim does not have to shoulder them. 

What Is the Purpose of Nominal Damages? 

Nominal damages are symbolic. They represent justice. Victims receive nominal damages to represent their victory in a case where they do not otherwise receive compensatory or other substantial damages. 

Celebrity Examples of Nominal Damages 

Wealthy celebrities sometimes request nominal damages as they seek justice but do not want money. 

When retried optician Terry Sanderson sued Gwenyth Paltrow following a ski accident, he alleged that the actress caused the accident. 

Yet the jury found that the plaintiff was, in fact, at fault. The jury assigned 100% of the fault to the plaintiff.  

As vindication, Gwenyth Paltrow sought one dollar in nominal damages, which she received. 

Taylor Swift received one dollar in nominal damages when she sued radio host David Mueller for groping her. The musical artist claimed she was not interested in obtaining money. Rather, she wanted justice. She wanted to show that women could report an assault without fear. 

If you’ve sustained a personal injury in the State of Texas or have further questions about the damages you can recover, it’s likely worth your time to seek legal help from an experienced attorney. Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations, meaning you can reach out for some preliminary legal advice at no cost to you.

For more information, contact the Houston personal injury law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.

Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
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Houston, TX 77098
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